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4 year old behaviour *update*


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#1 mum2jp

Posted 24 April 2020 - 11:03 PM

Any advice welcome as I am at my wits end and running out of idea's.

My DD is 4 turning 5 before the end of the year. She has always had a determined nature and we have stuggled with various stages/phases such as eating ect over the years. This past probably 6 to 9 months though have been incredibly difficult and I right now just feel we are failing her.

She has become aggressive and demanding towards us and her brother who is 9. She seems to always be demanding someone's attention and even when she has it has to control the game or whatever we are doing to her way. She lashes out verbally and physically when things don't go her way or we say no to something.

Our biggest issue right now is bedtime. I have always lay down with her as she goes off to sleep. She takes a long time to unwind and has never been easy to get to bed. Some nights she will just lay down, fidget around a bit then sleep. Then she has nights where its a 2 hour session.

She will start by just running around refusing to go into her room, I have to carry her in and sit on the inside of the door or she just comes straight out.  I tell her I will come lay in bed with her but she needs to get into bed. Usually this results in her yelling she is not going to bed and lashing out at me (hitting, kicking, throwing objects, tipping her water bottle on the floor), basically anything to get a reaction. If this continues I tell her I am leaving the room and stand outside the door holding the handle. Usually she bangs the door, yells then proceeds to turn her room upside down. She will eventually tell me she is in bed and as soon as I go back in gets up and starts again. We go around in circles until she gives up and then I lay with her and she finally goes to sleep.

I have been less than calm most nights recently and I know this gives her a reaction but I am out of idea's. I am terrified she is getting worse not better and there is no end in sight. I am embarrassed even writing that I can not manage my own 4 year old.

I spoke with community health as they did her 4 year old check over the phone. She asked the usual questions, how is she at daycare ect. (which she is fine, just at home we see this side of her) and said she will send me out a checklist to fill out and the nurse scores it.

Thank you if you got this far.

Edited by mum2jp, 21 May 2020 - 12:20 PM.


#2 Jingleflea

Posted 24 April 2020 - 11:16 PM

Is it always you doing the bedtime routine?

What is she like if her dad does it?

Honestly, if you are struggling now, I'd book her into see a developmental paediatrician.
Even if they don't find an issue that's not age appropriate(though she seems pretty extreme) they can help you by giving you ways to manage her behaviour.

Do you have a strict bedtime routine? Teeth, books lights out etc?
What consequences does she have if she doesn't do it nicely and calmly? What's her currency?
Have you tried a reward chart similar to toilet training?

Have you tried removing pretty much everything from her room? Toys in another room maybe, so there's less to destroy?

4 year olds are awful quite often, I've got friends with kids who are similar and I don't know how they cope. One boy likes to scream...they've had the neighbours call the police but it was just her kid being his usual self not getting his own way in something.

#3 mum2jp

Posted 24 April 2020 - 11:45 PM

It is usually me, DH has occasionally stepped in and she is the same with him in terms of refusal but slightly less aggressive.

She is very routine driven so yes always dinner, shower, milk and relax on lounge (either tv or story) then bed. She turns on her nightlight and music and then bed.

I am yet to find her currency, we have tried consequences such as any toys she throws or is unsafe with go in the cupboard. During the day I take her to her room for time out if she is being aggressive.

I have visuals up on her wardrobe with feelings for her to point to and a basket of quiet time toys, like a calm down area. For bed time we have tried the stamp chart to work towards a treat with some success, some nights reminding her of it works others she just yells she doesn't care. She has limited toys in her room as we have a toy room, just this basket and books on a shelf in her wardrobe. She will empty her clothes out of the draw, throw the basket of toys and all the books everywhere when having a tantrum.

She just doesn't seem to care about consequences. I might ask our GP for a referral though in the appointment she would be fine. She is usually very shy with new people. She has started speech therapy this year and it has taken her several sessions to even talk to her therapist.

Edited by mum2jp, 24 April 2020 - 11:49 PM.


#4 Crombek

Posted 24 April 2020 - 11:52 PM

View Postmum2jp, on 24 April 2020 - 11:45 PM, said:

It is usually me, DH has occasionally stepped in and she is the same with him in terms of refusal but slightly less aggressive.

I am yet to find her currency, we have tried consequences such as any toys she throws or is unsafe with go in the cupboard. During the day I take her to her room for time out if she is being aggressive.

I have visuals up on her wardrobe with feelings for her to point to and a basket of quiet time toys, like a calm down area. For bed time we have tried the stamp chart to work towards a treat with some success, some nights reminding her of it works others she just yells she doesn't care. She has limited toys in her room as we have a toy room, just this basket and books on a shelf in her wardrobe. She will empty her clothes out of the draw, throw the basket of toys and all the books everywhere when having a tantrum.

She just doesn't seem to care about consequences. I might ask our GP for a referral though in the appointment she would be fine. She is usually very shy with new people. She has started speech therapy this year and it has taken her several sessions to even talk to her therapist.

This is really interesting as my first thought was 'I wonder if she's an anxious bunny?' What is the speech issue? Could she be having difficulty expressing her fears/needs to you and experiencing frustration? Is the extra alone time with her parent her currency? Is she afraid of bed/the dark/separation?

I would actually ask for a psychologist referral while waiting for a paed. There's a lot of potential reasons for her behaviours and getting a full view of the whole dynamic would be really useful I suspect.

#5 mum2jp

Posted 25 April 2020 - 12:06 AM

Her speech issue is articulating some sounds and blends. She was referred at her 3 year old check. Her speech has improved alot and she is very good with her sentences ect. I had not thought about her currency being getting more time or being anxious. Will keep an eye on that.

#6 Paddlepop

Posted 25 April 2020 - 12:37 AM

The three things that come to mind are ASD, anxiety and PDA (pathological demand avoidance). I'd definitely be looking into a referral to a developmental paediatrician, and to a child psychologist. You'll probably get into a psychologist much faster than into a good developmental paediatrician. The psychologist should be able to help give you strategies to help manage your DD's behaviour.

Some links about PDA:
https://pdaguidance....en-pda-and-odd/
https://www.stephstw...nd-odd.html?m=1
https://www.pdasocie...at-is-pda-menu/

It sounds like a tough situation to be dealing with.

#7 Gruffalo's Child

Posted 25 April 2020 - 12:59 AM

That sounds very challenging OP.  I’d also recommend seeing a developmental paediatrician.  While you’re waiting for that appointment, it could be worth going to see a child psychologist - your speech therapist might even be able to recommend one for you.  We saw a psychologist and a speech therapist prior to our first appointment with our developmental paediatrician and were able to take in reports from both of them which expediated him being able to give us a diagnosis.  

Another thing I’d recommend would be reading Ross Greene’s ‘The Explosive Child’.  I read this and wished I’d read it when my kids were your DD’s age.

#8 hoohoobump

Posted 25 April 2020 - 09:05 AM

I think the fact that someone else posted at the same time as you about 4 year old behaviour should be reassuring - they can be hard work.

We’ve never managed ‘hop into bed and walk out’ type bedtime - just too anxious and needed adult assistance to get to sleep. So, we changed it up - into bed - parents either lying on bed or sitting in chair next to bed, stories, mindfulness with low light, then a few minutes of dark, quiet, breathing (trying to co-regulate) before parent leaves. Setting a goal e.g. I’ll come back in __ minutes and eventually, try and go to sleep for __ minutes and then you can come and get me. We are currently using Smiling Mind which has kids sleep mindfulness activities for kids from 3.

We also had the ‘behaves beautifully’ at school/daycare and ‘behaves like erupting volcano’ at home - safe space and all that.

I agree with others about starting the process for assessment. Extra ideas won’t go astray. Perhaps a psych/OT to get started and see if there’s anxiety/sensory stuff that could help. e.g. we find ‘heavy work’ and other sensory stuff helps with calming and at 4/5 could identify what might help - beanbag squishes, big pillows, tight hugs, push/pull games, hammocks.

I agree with the PPs suggestion of The Explosive Child. We also used ‘Zones of Regulation’ - best set up in conjunction with an OT/psych, but can be good for young kids to help identify feelings and articulate them. Hey Warrior and Hey Awesome by Karen Young are also good - about brain science, stress and anxiety. Some kids can’t self regulate  (or some adults) and need help to co-regulate - an adult helping them to get back to a calmer state.

I probably haven’t articulated the above very well, but there are lots of resources out there to help. It’s hard work.








#9 MsLaurie

Posted 25 April 2020 - 09:06 AM

Is she physically tired enough from the day? Could you add in a long walk after dinner, even if it’s in the dark with torches? Might help with both the physical tiredness and the desire for extra time.

#10 mum2jp

Posted 25 April 2020 - 09:28 AM

Thanks for the idea's and links. We usually go for an afternoon bike ride or walk and bedtime is around 8, have dinner around 6 then start winding down.

I have just started reading Raising your spirited child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka but will look at ordering the explosive child too. I am a reader so will give me something else to read.

I should receive the checklist from community health next week so will start with that and see where we go from there.

Just on the physcologist, do i need a referral for a child physcologist or can I just call and book in? I am not sure she would engage at first anyway but it might be worth a try. Right now is probably a crappy time to try get appointments at places. We are also not attending speech right now due to covid, I had a phone consult last week just to follow up how she is going with the homework.

#11 Mrs Claus

Posted 25 April 2020 - 09:47 AM

One thing that has worked really well for us is no screen time before bed. Yes it’s a quite obvious one but I didn’t think it was effecting my DS (3.5) we have now turned off all screens, tv included, an hr before bed and it’s made a huge difference. We’ve gone from at least an hr to settle to two stories in bed, a kiss goodnight and he’s settling himself off to sleep no worries.

gone from 1.5hrs to 5 mins in a week. Even my older kids have said they are going off to sleep easier too

#12 José

Posted 25 April 2020 - 11:00 AM

View Postmum2jp, on 25 April 2020 - 09:28 AM, said:

Just on the physcologist, do i need a referral for a child physcologist or can I just call and book in? I am not sure she would engage at first anyway but it might be worth a try. Right now is probably a crappy time to try get appointments at places. We are also not attending speech right now due to covid, I had a phone consult last week just to follow up how she is going with the homework.

You need a GP referral to get a Medicare rebate.
You can go without a referral but no rebate. You can schedule an appointment without the referral, just get refeeral before the appointment.
they will mostly be working with you and are experienced at working with a range of concerns so I wouldn't worry about how your child will engage with them.
many psychologists are doing telehealth at the moment e.g. platforms like zoom where there is visual. I know of many who are offering this at a significantly discounted rate as compared to usual.
totally worth looking into.

Edited by José, 25 April 2020 - 11:00 AM.


#13 MsLaurie

Posted 25 April 2020 - 11:33 AM

8pm is quite a late bedtime- I wonder if you might be missing the window and she’s over-tired and not handling it?
Possibly not so much at the moment with isolation but I found that at age 4 with kinder my daughter needed dinner about 5pm, in bed by 6 at the latest or she totally lost it.

Edited by MsLaurie, 25 April 2020 - 11:34 AM.


#14 rubyskye

Posted 25 April 2020 - 11:50 AM

View PostMsLaurie, on 25 April 2020 - 11:33 AM, said:

8pm is quite a late bedtime- I wonder if you might be missing the window and she’s over-tired and not handling it?
Possibly not so much at the moment with isolation but I found that at age 4 with kinder my daughter needed dinner about 5pm, in bed by 6 at the latest or she totally lost it.

This is us too. Just about to turn 4 year old here and kinder days were 6.30pm bedtime, 8pm now we are in isolation and not using so much energy.

#15 Ruby red shoes

Posted 25 April 2020 - 12:38 PM

We have recently swapped tv in the evening for puzzles and board games in the evening. Ds also fidgets for a while in bed. It seems to help him wind down.

When he was younger he went through a stage of throwing things. We had a toy jail where toys that got thrown went into. To get them back he had to show me how he could make a good choice. For example, help me tidy up, load the dishwasher etc.

#16 Sui-yat

Posted 25 April 2020 - 12:57 PM

There is a free online parenting program, called Parentworks, that may give you some strategies to help manage her behaviour. It was developed by a team of psychologists at Sydney University.

https://parentworks.org.au

#17 PocketIcikleflakes

Posted 25 April 2020 - 01:02 PM

Opposite to many people's experiences, DS can't sleep if he has a big outlet of energy late in the afternoon. It takes him a long time to work down from.

He is autistic and ADHD and that is a relatively common occurrence.

With a child psychologist don't worry a your DD not engaging with them as such. Or experience at a similar age has been more observational, to gain an understanding of what the child is experiencing and how they are behaving.

I've heard great things about the books mentioned though I've not got round to reading them yet.

Good luck. I hope you find a way to make this easier for everyone.

#18 CrankyM

Posted 25 April 2020 - 01:04 PM

You can see a psychologist without a referral. If you see the GP though, they can write up a mental health care plan that will help with a Medicare rebate (there is often still a gap fee).

Ross Greene’s work is brilliant. We find his tools and ideas work so much better for our family and I wish I’d found him when my child was tour age.

I will say not every child has a currency or cares about things like consequences. They don’t link those two things together easily and therefore they are totally useless. We find Greene helpful because he does not use this technique at all. My oldest child in particular has no currency. It’s made life hard.

I personally would also look at tools like a visual timetable or routine. You can make them easy enough using a small magnetic white board and some magnets or laminated sheet and Velcro. For a very routine driven child this can help enormously because it provides predictability. It also gives them some control over it, they can help set it up and move things from the “to do” to “done”.

Also 8pm is very late for a child that age. It could be they are overtired. Which makes it so much harder to go to sleep. Maybe trying moving bedtime back 10-15mins every 3-4 days. Also I laid with my youngest until he 7 because it was the only way for him to go to sleep. It’s ok to do this. He had/has some sensory issues that appear as anxiety around sleep. A weighted blanket has helped with this for him (he needs lots of sensory input. Not enough tends to make him overstimulated).

Also getting a referral for a developmental pead can’t hurt. There might be something going on, there might not. They usually have long waitlists so organising the referral and then looking at other ways to support while waiting is the best way to go.

#19 newmumandexcited

Posted 25 April 2020 - 06:19 PM

I’m no expert but 8 seems late - my 5, 3.5 and 3.5 are in bed by 6-6:30 though not always asleep..

My kids get very difficult if I leave it too late.

Edited by newmumandexcited, 25 April 2020 - 06:21 PM.


#20 mum2jp

Posted 25 April 2020 - 07:08 PM

For those who have kids in bed by 6:30, what time do you do dinner?

We eat around 6, kids play after dinner while DH & I clear up. So it's usually 6:30-6:45 before the kids are getting into the shower by the time we eat and tidy up. She is showered by 7ish so could bring it forward to probably 7:15-7:30. Weekends we can eat earlier but generally we wait for DH to get home from work and eat together.

Tonight we ate earlier as I know she is tired as last night she was up for ages. I am aiming to get her into bed soon before 7:30 and see how we go. Fingers crossed being tired from last night works in our favour.

#21 SplashingRainbows

Posted 25 April 2020 - 07:14 PM

My very first thought was she’s tired. I can see from later posts that bed is 8. In my experience 6-6:30 was a better time.

No naps and definitely no TV before bed.

Exercise and sunshine early in the day.

Good food, plenty of water and a solid routine of bath teeth book then bed every night should help a lot.
Do up visual charts if she is struggling with the order:intake of info.

ETA dinner is 5-5:30 here. Youngest is almost 6 and still eats better at 5 than any minute later. Sometimes a sandwich at 5 and into bed is better for everyone than dragging out the day for the sake of a meal they won’t eat anyway.

Edited by SplashingRainbows, 25 April 2020 - 07:16 PM.


#22 José

Posted 25 April 2020 - 07:14 PM

View Postmum2jp, on 25 April 2020 - 07:08 PM, said:

For those who have kids in bed by 6:30, what time do you do dinner?




When DS was younger we did his dinner at 5pm.
People do a range of things to cater for this e.g. eat main meal at lunch so dinner can just be a sandwich, feed the kid/s left overs from the adult meal the night before, have frozen portions of meals in the freezer for kid/s to defrost and reheat.

I'm in complete agreement with those who said 8pm is a very late bed time.

#23 newmumandexcited

Posted 25 April 2020 - 07:18 PM

Dinner at 5 - 5:30. They watch tv though I might look to get rid of that after reading this. They go to bed at 6 but it was 7 before daylight savings and I will stay at 6 until then. My 3.5 year old fall straight asleep assuming no nap at daycare, my 5 year old is up for half an hour. I lay with my 5 year old and my husband with the twins.

On the day it’s pushed back, they are manic. I would struggle to get any food into them at 6 - they are too tired and agitated.

Edited by newmumandexcited, 25 April 2020 - 07:20 PM.


#24 kerilyntaryn

Posted 25 April 2020 - 07:52 PM

My first thought was see a development pediatrician re PDA, ASD, ODD and anxiety

I'd bring the bedtime earlier too around 6.30-7.  Do the cleanup after they are asleep

#25 MsLaurie

Posted 25 April 2020 - 08:05 PM

As much as I hate it, I usually do two dinners. The kids are something easy- baked beans, ravioli with peas and cheese, sausages or nuggets with veggies, or a “tasty plate” with various bits and pieces. That is served early, then the adults have dinner after bath/stories/bed. Clean up happens later.

On weekends we can push the kids later, and eat together.

Edited by MsLaurie, 25 April 2020 - 08:06 PM.





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